Last year’s dress that doesn’t fit -- or one worn to this year’s holiday party -- could let a needy girl go to her prom when spring arrives.That’s the message from a new dress-donation project called ‘Prom’iere, organized by the New Castle County Department of Community Services after a suggestion by county library staff.All county libraries will start accepting gown donations Jan. 3 and details of the ‘Prom’iere giveaway will be announced after the holidays.“This is a great idea to help young women who can’t afford prom dresses,” County Executive Thomas P. Gordon said. “And it shows how our libraries do much more than lend books and movies.”Joining a social media trend, staff members paused Tuesday to strike a “Mannequin Challenge” pose while hanging dozens of donated gowns. Many dangled tags with $100-$250 prices but all are among about 50 dresses given by two county employees who bargain-shopped the Junior League of Wilmington’s Whale of a Sale fundraiser last weekend.To promote ‘Prom’iere, county staff also dressed two mannequins, creating skirts with copies of book covers – all titles written by women.The “book dresses” will be placed at Brandywine Hundred Library at 1300 Foulk Road and Hockessin Library at 1023 Valley Road to help recruit ‘Prom’iere gown donors.Although public donations start Jan. 2, the county is spreading word now to get a jump on the holidays.“This way, people checking their wardrobes can pull last year’s dresses to donate and know a good home for what they wear this year,” said General Manager Sophia Hanson of the Department of Community Services. “Just one donated dress can make all the difference for a student who, otherwise, might not be able to cover the expense of a prom dress.”The idea was suggested by Library Manager Tanya Moye and Library Specialist Kim Tull – both of Woodlawn Library in Wilmington -- after they saw prom gown projects elsewhere. “We’re always trying to find ways to reach the teens in our neighborhood,” Tull said. “This seemed like a positive way to get them into the library.”Starting Jan. 2, county library branches will accept donations during their regular hours. Dresses may be new or gently used and all sizes are needed. Dresses must be on hangers and any that were worn must be drycleaned before donation.New Castle County Libraries’ branches, their locations and hours are listed at www.nccde.org/286/Libraries. Residents also may find their nearest county library by calling (302) 395-5680.Donations also may be sent in checks payable to Friends of Woodlawn Library, 2020 W. Ninth St., Wilmington, DE 19805, and the New Castle Police Athletic League (PAL) of Delaware, 26 Karlyn Drive, New Castle, DE 19720. Donations are tax-deductible.
PHOTO CAPTION New Castle County employees strike a “Mannequin Challenge” pose Tuesday while sorting gowns that Department of Community Services General Manager Sophia Hanson (left) and county communication specialist robin brown (center) bargain-shopped at last weekend’s Junior League of Wilmington Whale of a Sale to give the county’s ‘Prom’iere gown giveaway. Helping are (from right) Coordinator of Marketing and Outreach Carey Lockman Corbin, Administrative Librarian Marlene Esposito and Community Services Coordinator Tasheena Friend and, at center, a gown with a skirt of book covers – all female authors – created to promote the dress donation drive. (NEW CASTLE COUNTY PHOTO)